Monday 23 April 2018

Lambert changes mind over Bent

Darren Bent is expected to fire Aston Villa's attack amid injuries elsewhere
Darren Bent is expected to fire Aston Villa's attack amid injuries elsewhere

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has revealed striker Darren Bent is not for sale in what appears to be a huge transfer U-turn.

The £24million record signing looked to have no future under Lambert when he lost the captaincy in 2012 and was sent on loan to Fulham last season.

However, Bent is back in the squad this year, along with former outcast Alan Hutton, with chairman Randy Lerner keen for Lambert to use the top earners rather than waste a wage.

And with Christian Benteke and Libor Kozak recovering from serious long-term injuries, Lambert will resist any interest in Bent ahead of Monday's transfer deadline.

"I do expect him to be here at the end of the transfer window," said Lambert, who has been linked with Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley.

"You would keep Darren. As I said before, you do what's right for Aston Villa. No one will go until I say so. You keep all your players and I don't see us letting anyone go right now.

"Nobody will leave without me saying. I don't think any player like that will move. Darren's here and nobody will be going."

Villa have drawn a blank in six of their last nine games stretching back to last season, and suffered a shock 1-0 Capital One Cup defeat to Leyton Orient on Wednesday.

Bent, who has 25 goals in 66 games for Villa, missed several chances against the Sky Bet League One side on his first start for the club since May 2013.

He could be handed another chance in Sunday's Barclays Premier League visit of Hull as Benteke is at least a month away after rupturing his Achilles in April.

Fellow striker Kozak broke his leg in January and is yet to rejoin the squad in training, and Lambert has total faith Bent can provide the goals to ease Villa's scoring worries.

"If you had asked me on Wednesday if someone had a few chances to score who would you pick, you'd pick him to put them away," said Lambert.

"It just never happened for him. I don't have a problem with Darren playing or getting another chance to score - I think he'd take it.

"I don't think he's the type of character to let it affect him and I would've backed him with those chances."

Benteke is making good progress from his Achilles injury and Lambert expects him to step up his recovery after next week's international break.

He added: "Christian and Libor are doing well. Christian is ahead of Libor in his rehab and after the international break will be working with us.

"If he can start training with us it'll be a major thing, then we'll see how he is game-wise. Christian will be his own guide, he'll let us know when he's ready."

Press Association

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